Trump Don't Want No Short Short Fed Chairs
Donald Trump gave one of his classic unhinged interviews with the Washington Post Tuesday where he blamed everyone for everything with deranged defiance. All his sit-down interviews play out like failed interventions where the press confronts him over the mess he's made while high on Russian-laced presidency and he just responds, "Well, screw you, too!"
Let's turn our attention, though, to one relatively minor item in the interview that shouldn't be overlooked because of all the much bigger and scarier crazy surrounding it. (Check back later for that!) Trump is not happy with Jerome Powell, his non-economist pick to head the Federal Reserve. True to form for this buck-stops-elsewhere president, Trump feels Powell was foisted on him. His advisers had steered him away from renominating Obama appointee Janet Yellen, the first woman to hold the position. She'd impressed Trump in an interview, but he was concerned she was "too short" for the job. Yes, you just read those words.
The president also appeared hung up on Yellen's height. He told aides on the National Economic Council on several occasions that the 5-foot-3-inch economist was not tall enough to lead the central bank, quizzing them on whether they agreed, current and former officials said.
Yellen is not a member of the Lollipop Guild. Average height for a woman is 5 foot 4. Half of American women are Yellen's height or shorter, including a plurality of Wonkettes. (Robyn is getting salty in the chatcave about her 5'8 AND THREE QUARTERS. How does she even fit in a house???) What the hell does height have to do with the Federal Reserve? Do you need something from the top shelf to raise interest rates? Does the 6-foot-3 (he claims) Trump think he'd have declared bankruptcy a seventh time if he were any shorter? I can only imagine what his aides were thinking when he "quizzed" them on this shallow bullshit. "Is he serious? He can't be serious. I bet he's joking. Should we laugh? Why can I no longer feel the sunshine?"
Our friends at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tend to think this line of questioning is legally dubious. But why should the president concern himself with federal law?
Height and weight requirements tend to disproportionately limit the employment opportunities of some protected groups and unless the employer can demonstrate how the need is related to the job, it may be viewed as illegal under federal law. A number of states and localities have laws specifically prohibiting discrimination on the basis of height and weight unless based on actual job requirements. Therefore, unless job-related, inquiries about height and weight should be avoided.
Average height for a man is around 5 foot 9, so it would seem like considering height as a measure (ha!) of leadership will unfairly discriminate against women. Trump, however, has applied his herrenvolk standards to men under consideration for important positions. He reportedly decided against Tennessee Senator Bob Corker for Secretary of State because he believed the 5-foot-7 Corker "was too short and was facing too many insider trading allegations." The insider trading feels like something Trump just threw in so his decision wouldn't seem totally superficial. "I don't think I'll go out with Bob again. He's kinda short... and, uh, he doesn't tip 20 percent. I just have too much respect for the service industry."
It's true that Trump's one-time attorney general Jeff Sessions was no more than 5 foot 5, but the white hood adds a few inches. Trump is seemingly obsessed with physical appearance and wrongly believes one's worth is dependent upon it. It's not a shock. He's the same guy who publicly mocked a disabled reporter, and as president his Justice (sic) Department pulled decades of guidance documents related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Obama administration actively advocated for disabled Americans. Two deaf women held prominent positions in Obama's White House. Meanwhile, the fifth grade bully in chief thinks people are "too short" for certain jobs. Trump's wife and daughter are reportedly both 5 foot 11. Height isn't everything.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.